"Nutcracker" is written in a very close third person POV; it feels and reads almost like a first person story. Shelly is a smart teenager who has a job at a footwear store. It sounds like one of those huge shoe stores like DSW. "Nutcracker" is a cringe worthy story. Shelly wonders why the young men who work there don't want to "rape" her. Hormones are rampant. The guys "play" at raping the "cool cashier(s)." No clothing is removed but the scenes are disturbing anyway in that the girls think it is something to desire. "But they never chose her, and the other girls noticed." Shelly searches on the internet about "how to flirt."
Shelly has a crush on Miles but he has a girlfriend who keeps close tabs on him. Shelly and Diana devise a plan for Shelly to hook up with Miles. "He wouldn't have come if he wasn't interested." However, Miles does decide to leave the party after Kenny brought them to his house and they were all drinking Nutcrackers. Shelly decides that she wants to meet the thugs who are hanging around outside. "'What about those guys outside?' Shelly said. 'Do any of them wanna chill?'" Kenny tries to tell her "Those guys are savages." But she insists that no one knows her nor what she wants. Shelly plays a dangerous game because she is desperate to change her good girl demeanor. In the end Shelly decides that "quiet, easy, and good" might be "alright" after all.
"If the store were closer to her house it would probably have functioning air conditioning."
"She'd googled 'how to flirt' for backup. Be casual. Ask questions. Make eye contact. Use body language. Break the touch barrier."
"Nutcracker" is in the Spring 2014, Volume 17, Issue 57, of American Short Fiction. This is a fabulous journal and I highly recommend purchasing or subscribing. This issue includes stories by Tia Clark, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Antonya Nelson, Matthew Neill Null, and Rob Roensch.
There's a short film based on this story now (Dec. 2016), directed by Michael Aronson.
25 October, 2009
Read Rikki Clark's short story, "The Widower Garden" published in Issue 72 of Glimmer Train. Just as life is unpredictable, one can never anticipate the event that might be an instigation, an incentive, for renewal of spirt and urge to live fully. The metaphors feel natural in this story. The pacing is just right, I think, for a short story that spans whole lifetimes with enough detail to give me the feeling that I know the people but not so much as to bog me down.